DIY Channel Tufted Headboard
Updated: Aug 30, 2021
How To Build a Faux Leather Channel Tufted Wingback Headboard
My oldest son's room was already well into its makeover. We had painted the room a gorgeous, saturated, blue grey and had added white horizontal shiplap for contrast. My two older boys went from sharing a room to each wanting their own space so we moved a queen bed frame into my oldest son's room. I briefly entertained the thought of buying a new bed with a headboard to replace the simple platform base that his mattress sits on but quickly decided that the bed frame was in perfectly good condition and although low profile was at a good height for a child. I couldn't help feel, though, that the bed looked "unfinished" and decided right there and then that I would finally build my first headboard!
...and decided right there and then that I would finally build my first headboard!
I've wanted to build one for years and this was the perfect opportunity to use my DIY skills and really create a statement piece. After scouring the internet for inspiration pictures, I settled on a channel tufted look. Something about the vertical channels of the headboard against all that horizontal shiplap really got me excited!
I love upholstered headboards. They add such elegance to a room and you can really get creative with the color choices these days. What I don't love is dust and that it can settle into a fabric headboard. So for this project I decided it was going to be faux leather and so would be wipeable! Isn't that the best part about building something from scratch? You have full control over the design from size to color to choice of materials.
Materials & Tools:
1 4'x8' sheet of 3/4" plywood
1 4'x8' sheet of 1/2" plywood
1 bag of batting (I got mine from Joann Fabrics)
1 king foam mattress topper
5 yds cognac colored faux leather
Kreg Rip Cut
2 1/2" construction screws
There were quite a few decisions to make before I settled on a design and method of construction. Was it going to be attached to the bed frame, free standing, or hung on the wall? How tall was it going to be? Was it going to be a wingback design or flat?
My decisions were to make it free standing so I did not have to alter the bed or drill holes in the shiplap wall. I wanted the top of the headboard to be higher than the top of the shiplap wall and it most certainly was going to be a wingback headboard for added grandeur.
Isn't that the best part about building something from scratch?
Method of Construction:
My engineering brain tries to plan for how all the different pieces eventually get assembled together. To get the channel tufted look, I decided it was easier to create individual upholstered strips that would then be attached to a back board to create the illusion of channel tufting. The sides would also be separate pieces attached to the back board to create the wingback look. Here are then the steps I followed:
Step 1 - I measured the width of the bed frame. In my case it was 63". I wanted to have 10 channels so each channel would be roughly 6 1/4". This is the width with batting and fabric wrapped around each piece so in order to leave room, I decided it was safer to rip my 1/2" plywood sheet into 6" strips using my circular saw and Kreg Rip Cut. It was much more manageable to cut down a large plywood sheet using this method rather than using a table saw. Each strip was 4' long utilizing the full width of the plywood sheet.
Step 2 - I cut the foam mattress topper into strips the same size as each plywood strip. I used a foam mattress topper but could have just as easily bought foam in bulk at the fabric store. This was more a matter of convenience and I knew with one king topper I would definitely have enough foam for this project (in fact had some left over so could have probably gotten away with less).
Step 3 - I covered each plywood + foam combo with batting securing it to the plywood with my staple gun.
Step 4 - I cut my faux leather fabric into strips wide enough to wrap each board (now covered in foam and batting ) and stapled it to the plywood on the backside of each strip.
I then had 10 upholstered strips and after laying them all next to each other, I measured the overall width to make sure it was roughly around 63" or the width of my bedframe. It came in a little wider at 65" so the batting and fabric does add quite a bit to the width of each strip. It was fine that it was wider and could adjust the snugness with the bed once I added the upholstered side pieces.
Step 5 - I cut my 3/4" plywood sheet down to a 65" width with my circular saw and Kreg Rip Cut (I sure love that tool!).
Step 6 - The length of the sides of this headboard which serve as both the wings and legs was dictated by how high I wanted the top of the headboard. The width of these pieces was dependent on how far forward I wanted the wings to come out against the side of the bed frame. I actually kept it roughly the same width as each of the channel pieces and ripped two long 7" strips from the 3/4" plywood sheet . You could make that deeper if you wanted more of that nook feel when sitting on the bed.
Step 7 - I covered just the top edge of the 3/4" plywood back board with batting and faux leather so no wood would be exposed once I attached the channels to it.
Step 8 - I wrapped the side pieces in batting and fabric ensuring there was nothing where the side would be attached to the back board. I also left the fabric loose as it wrapped around the side to the back since I needed access to be able to attach the upholstered pieces to these sides.
Step 9 - I screwed the side pieces to the back board using construction screws that I had on hand so the two sides and the back board formed a U shape.
Step 10- I ripped two strips of the 1/2" plywood about 5 1/2" wide and same length as each side piece.
Step 11 - I wrapped these two pieces in batting and fabric (no foam) and stapled them to the back of the strip, leaving the back of these pieces largely exposed plywood.
Step 12 - Using 2 or 3 1" wood screws, I attached each each upholstered channel strip to the back board, screwing into each piece from the back. If you vary the thicknesses of the plywood sheets from the ones I used, be sure to check that your screw length is enough to get into each channel piece through the back board but not too long that it could penetrate through the fabric. It was better to scoot each channel piece just a hair lower than that top edge of the back board so from a distance you saw the flat top edge of the back board instead of the rounded, foam and fabric covered channels. Each piece had some variation in how the fabric was pulled and stapled so scooting them all down a hair just gave a more finished and clean aesthetic.
Step 13 - I screwed through each of the side pieces to attach the upholstered strips from Step 12 much like the channel pieces attached to the back board. This is why the fabric was only partially wrapped around those sides so I had access to attach these to the overall assembly.
Step 14 - I then wrapped the fabric that was loose on either side, pulled tight round to the back and stapled it securely leaving no exposed wood visible and creating a beautiful upholstered headboard.
The headboard, once everything was put together was very heavy and so I was careful to assemble things upstairs close to our son's bedroom so we didn't have to travel very far with the headboard to install it in its place. Once the bed frame with mattress was pushed up against the headboard, it did not tip but for added security you could always secure it to the wall using a French cleat system. We did a few tests to ensure there would be no chance of it tipping before deciding to leave it free standing.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with how it turned out. I was not able to find a similar product to purchase and the final look for this headboard was exactly what I had envisioned. It anchors the design in my son's bedroom and is a feature that he loves as much as I do!
Tell me in the comments below what you think of this DIY. Would this be something you would try to create?